Wildcats Travel to Face New SEC Brother Missouri
Oct. 25, 2012
For the first time since 1968, Kentucky will face Missouri when the Southeastern Conference's newest member welcomes the Wildcats to Faurot Field Memorial Stadium on Saturday at Noon ET on ESPNU. This is the first meeting between the two schools as members of the SEC and only the third meeting ever.
Kentucky is coming off a strong showing last weekend against No. 13/12 Georgia, battling the Bulldogs down to the final second before eventually falling 29-24. The Wildcats established an impressive rushing attack against the Bulldogs, earning a season-best 206 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. Juniors Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders led the way with George posting a career-high 87 yards and Sanders charting 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Wildcat offense was led by true freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow and senior quarterback Morgan Newton. Whitlow finished the game with 31 rushing yards and 86 passing yards, while Newton threw for a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown after taking over in the redzone. The Wildcat's 24-point output was the second-most points a team has scored against UGA this season.
On defense, Kentucky limited Georgia a season-low 77 rushing yards on 32 carries. The Bulldogs found success through the air, however, with Aaron Murray throwing for 427 yards and four touchdowns against the young UK secondary. Junior linebacker Avery Williamson had a strong game for UK, earning a game-high 13 tackles for his fifth double-digit tackle effort of the year.
Missouri (3-4) is coming off an open date, the third UK opponent in the last four weeks to have a bye before playng the Wildcats. The Tigers' last game was a 42-10 home loss against No. 1 Alabama, played in a torrential rain. MU is led by outsanding dual-threat quarterback James Franklin, who missed the Alabama game because of injury but hopes to return this week.
Cat Scratches: Cats ready for new experience heading to Mizzou
With a team as young as Kentucky's, the 2012 season has been full of new experiences, but even the relatively few veterans on the roster about go through something for the first time this weekend.
Not a single current Wildcat was alive - or within even 20 years of being born - the last time UK and Missouri matched up in 1968. In fact, Joker Phillips was five years old and 13 years away from even beginning his playing career at Kentucky.
The Cats will be making their first-ever trip to Columbia, Mo., with the Tigers as members of the Southeastern Conference, which means everything from landing at the airport to driving to Faurot Field Memorial Stadium to taking the field will be unfamiliar... read the full preview
Under 12th year head coach Gary Pinkel, Missouri enters its contest against Kentucky on Saturday with a 3-4 record, looking for its first Southeastern Conference win of the season. The Tigers are coming off a bye week.
The Tigers have been very impressive on defense this season. Missouri ranks 41st nationally in total defense, 43rd in pass defense and 50th in rushing defense. In addition, the Tigers rank fourth in the nation and first in the SEC in tackles-for-loss, averaging 8.43 TFLs a game, while also sitting tied for 36th nationally in sacks per game with 2.43. Four of MU's seven opponents this season have been held to 20 or less points.
Part of the defensive success is based on a plus-6 turnover margin for the Tigers, who have recovered 11 fumbles and made five interceptions this season. Senior defensive back Kip Edwards leads the team in interceptions with two, while junior defensive back E. J. Gaines has a team-high five pass breakups. In all, 11 players have pass breakups this season for MU, while six players have forced fumbles, including junior linebacker Andrew Wilson's four fumbles forced. Junior defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson leads the team in tackles with 52, adding 7.5 tackles-for-loss and four sacks.
Offensively, the Tigers have used two quarterbacks almost equally this season after starting junior quarterback James Franklin missed time due to injury. Franklin sustained an injury against Vanderbilt that sidelined him against Alabama as well. In five games, Franklin has completed 61.3 percent (73-119-2) of his passes for 805 yards and four touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser has completed nearly 50 percent (54-113-3) for 627 yards and three touchdowns.
Kendial Lawrence leads the team in rushing with 95 carries for 524 yards and five touchdowns, while Marcus Lucas is the team's leading receiver with 32 catches for 327 yards and two touchdowns.